Skip to content
Switch branches/tags
Go to file
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time

Building Xamarin.Android on Linux and macOS

Building Xamarin.Android on Linux and macOS relies on GNU make and MSBuild via the msbuild command (within Mono). MSBuild via xbuild can also be used by setting the $(MSBUILD) make variable to xbuild.

Building Xamarin.Android

  1. Install the build dependencies.

  2. Clone the xamarin-android repo:

    git clone
  3. Navigate to the xamarin-android directory

  4. (Optional) Configure the build.

  5. (For Microsoft team members only) (Optional) Prepare external proprietary git dependencies

    make prepare-external-git-dependencies

    This will clone or update a monodroid checkout in external and ensure that subsequent prepare and make invocations will build proprietary components.

  6. Prepare the project:

    make prepare
    # -or-
    make prepare MSBUILD=msbuild

    This will ensure that the build dependencies are installed, perform git submodule update, download NuGet dependencies, and other "preparatory" and pre-build tasks that need to be performed.

  7. Build the project:

    # -or-
    make MSBUILD=msbuild

    The default make all target builds a subset of everything, in the interests of build speed: it builds only one $(TargetFrameworkVersion), and only supports the armeabi-v7a and x86 ABIs (for hardware and emulator testing).

    If you want to build everything -- support for all $(TargetFrameworkVersion)s, all ABIs, Windows cross-compilers, etc. -- then use the make jenkins target:

    make jenkins
    # -or-
    make jenkins MSBUILD=msbuild

@jonathanpeppers gave a talk at Xamarin Developer Summit 2019 with a full walkthrough. Even though the demo was on Windows, many of the concepts should still apply:

Build Xamarin.Android

Creating a local .NET android Workload

make prepare provisions a specific build of .NET to bin/$(Configuration)/dotnet.

Once make all or make jenkins have completed, your local bin/$(Configuration)/lib/packs directory will be populated with a local Android "workload" in Microsoft.Android.Sdk.$(HostOS) matching your operating system.

Create a new project with ./ new android:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">

Build the project with:

$ ./ build foo.csproj

Using the dotnet-local script will execute the dotnet provisioned in bin/$(Configuration)/dotnet and will use the locally built binaries.

See the One .NET Documentation for further details.

Creating installers

Once make all or make jenkins have completed, macOS (.pkg), Windows (.vsix), and .NET android workload .nupkg files can be built with:

make create-installers

Alternatively, .NET android workload packs can be built with:

make create-nupkgs
# -or-
make pack-dotnet

Several .nupkg files will be output in ./bin/Build$(Configuration)/nuget-unsigned.

Commercial installers will be created by this command if the make prepare-external-git-dependencies command was ran before building.

Building Unit Tests

Once make all or make jenkins have completed, the unit tests may be built with:

make all-tests

Running Unit Tests

The xamarin-android repo contains several unit tests:

  • NUnit-based unit tests, for stand-alone assemblies and utilities.

  • .apk-based unit tests, which are NUnitLite-based tests that need to execute on an Android device.

All unit tests can be executed via the make run-all-tests target:

$ make run-all-tests

All NUnit-based tests can be executed via the make run-nunit-tests target:

$ make run-nunit-tests

All .apk-based unit tests can be executed via the make run-apk-tests target:

$ make run-apk-tests

Running Individual NUnit Tests

Individual NUnit-based tests can be executed by overriding the $(NUNIT_TESTS) make variable:

$ make run-nunit-tests NUNIT_TESTS=bin/TestDebug/Xamarin.Android.Build.Tests.dll

Listing Nunit Tests

In order to get a list of the tests you can use the list-nunit-tests make target

make list-nunit-tests

or via the ListNUnitTests target

msbuild Xamarin.Android.sln /t:ListNUnitTests

This will produce a list of the tests in all of the test assemblies.

Running Specific Nunit Tests

You can run then a single (or a group) of tests using the $(TEST) make variable or msbuild property.

make run-nunit-tests TEST=Xamarin.Android.Build.Tests.Aapt2Tests.Aapt2Compile

or via

msbuild Xamarin.Android.sln /t:RunNunitTests /p:TEST=Xamarin.Android.Build.Tests.Aapt2Tests.Aapt2Compile

Running Individual .apk Projects

You can run selected apk test by passing PACKAGES variable to make run-apk-tests. For example:

make run-apk-tests PACKAGES="Xamarin.Forms_Performance_Integration;Xamarin.Android.Locale_Tests"

or with msbuild:

msbuild /t:RunApkTests tests/RunApkTests.targets /p:ApkTests='"Xamarin.Forms_Performance_Integration;Xamarin.Android.Locale_Tests"'

Another possibility is to run them manually as described below.

See also the tests/RunApkTests.targets and build-tools/scripts/TestApks.targets files.

All .apk-based unit test projects provide the following targets:

  • DeployTestApks: Installs the associated .apk to an Android device.
  • UndeployTestApks: Uninstalls the associated .apk from an Android device.
  • RunTestApks: Executes the unit tests contained within a .apk. This target must be executed after the DeployTestApks target.

To run an individual .apk-based test project, a package must be built, using the SignAndroidPackage target, installed, and executed.

For example:

$ bin/Debug/bin/xabuild /t:SignAndroidPackage  tests/locales/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests.csproj
$ bin/Debug/bin/xabuild /t:DeployTestApks      tests/locales/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests.csproj
$ bin/Debug/bin/xabuild /t:RunTestApks         tests/locales/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests/Xamarin.Android.Locale-Tests.csproj

Running .apk Projects with Include/Exclude

If an .apk-based unit test uses the NUnit [Category] custom attribute, then those tests can be explicitly included or excluded from execution by setting the $(INCLUDECATEGORIES) or $(EXCLUDECATEGORIES) make variables.

For example, to exclude tests that use the internet (InetAccess) category:

$ make run-apk-tests EXCLUDECATEGORIES=InetAccess

$(INCLUDECATEGORIES) functions in the same fashion.

To specify multiple categories, separate each category with a : character.

Running A Single Test Fixture

A single NUnit Test Fixture -- a class with the [TestFixture] custom attribute -- may be executed instead of executing all test fixtures.

The RunTestApks target accepts a TestFixture MSBuild property to specify the test fixture class to execute:

$ bin/Debug/bin/xabuild /t:RunTestApks \
    /p:TestFixture=Xamarin.Android.LocaleTests.SatelliteAssemblyTests \

If using Xamarin.Android.NUnitLite for projects outside the xamarin-android repository, such as NUnit tests for a custom app, the RunTestApks target will not exist. In such scenarios, the adb shell am instrument command can be used instead. It follows the format:

$ adb shell am instrument -e suite FIXTURE -w PACKAGE/INSTRUMENTATION


  • FIXTURE is the full managed class name of the NUnit test fixture to execute.
  • PACKAGE is the Android package name containing the NUnit tests
  • INSTRUMENTATION is the Java callable wrapper class name to execute, located within the Android package PACKAGE.

For example:

$ adb shell am instrument -e suite Xamarin.Android.LocaleTests.SatelliteAssemblyTests \
	-w "Xamarin.Android.Locale_Tests/"

How do I build Mono.Android.dll for a given API Level?

There are a few ways to do it:

How do I rebuild the Mono Runtime and Native Binaries?

The short way

From the top of the Xamarin Android source tree you can run make for the following targets, which implement the steps to rebuild the runtime and BCL described further down in the document:

# Show help on all the rebuild targets
make rebuild-help

# Rebuild Mono runtime for all configured architectures regardless
# of whether a cached copy was used.

# Rebuild and install Mono runtime for the armeabi-v7a architecture only regardless
# of whether a cached copy was used.

# Rebuild and install Mono runtime for the arm64-v8a architecture only regardless
# of whether a cached copy was used.

# Rebuild and install Mono runtime for the x86 architecture only regardless
# of whether a cached copy was used.

# Rebuild and install Mono runtime for the x86_64 architecture only regardless
# of whether a cached copy was used.

# Rebuild and install a specific BCL assembly. Assembly name must be passed in the ASSEMBLY Make variable
rebuild-bcl-assembly ASSEMBLY=bcl_assembly_name

# Rebuild and install all the BCL assemblies

Note that rebuilding Mono using the targets above will modify the commit at the git HEAD by resetting its date to the current one (see below for more info) - do NOT commit the change to Mono as it rewrites history.

The long way

The various Mono runtimes -- over 20 of them (!) -- all store object code within src/mono-runtimes/obj/$(Configuration)/TARGET.

If you change sources within external/mono, a top-level make/msbuild invocation may not rebuild those mono native binaries. To explicitly rebuild all Mono runtimes, you must do two things:

  1. Ensure that the timestamp of the HEAD commit in external/mono has changed.
  2. Use the ForceBuild target on mono-runtimes.csproj.

Changing the timestamp of the HEAD commit can be done with git pull, git commit or git commit --amend. How the timestamp changes isn't important; it needs to change in order for ForceBuild to do anything. (This is admittedly annoying for those working directly on Mono; it requires an "intermediate" commit in order to trigger a rebuild.)

The ForceBuild target can be executed as:

# Build and install all runtimes
$ msbuild /t:ForceBuild src/mono-runtimes/mono-runtimes.csproj

The ForceBuild target will build mono for all configured architectures, then invoke the _InstallRuntimes target when all the mono's have finished building; see the $(AndroidSupportedHostJitAbis), $(AndroidSupportedTargetAotAbis), and $(AndroidSupportedTargetJitAbis) MSBuild properties within This may not always be desirable, for example if you're trying to fix a Mono runtime bug for a specific ABI, and improving turnaround time is paramount. (Building for all ABIs can be time consuming.)

To build Mono for a specific target, run make from the relevant directory, where the "relevant directory" is the target of interest within src/mono-runtimes/obj/$(Configuration). When make has completed, invoke the _InstallRuntimes target so that the updated native libraries are copied into bin/$(Configuration)/lib, which will allow subsequent top-level make and xabuild invocations to use them.

For example, to rebuild Mono for armeabi-v7a:

$ make -C src/mono-runtimes/obj/Debug/armeabi-v7a

# This updates bin/$(Configuration)/lib/
$ msbuild /t:_InstallRuntimes src/mono-runtimes/mono-runtimes.csproj

How do I rebuild BCL assemblies?

The Xamarin.Android Base Class Library assemblies, such as mscorlib.dll, are built within external/mono, using Mono's normal build system:

# This updates external/mono/mcs/class/lib/monodroid/ASSEMBLY.dll
$ make -C external/mono/mcs/class/ASSEMBLY PROFILE=monodroid

Alternatively, if you want to rebuild all the assemblies, the "host" Mono needs to be rebuilt. Note that the name of the "host" directory varies based on the operating system you're building from:

$ make -C src/mono-runtimes/obj/Debug/host-Darwin

Once the assemblies have been rebuilt, they can be copied into the appropriate Xamarin.Android SDK directory by using the _InstallBcl target:

# This updates bin/$(Configuration)/lib/
$ msbuild src/mono-runtimes/mono-runtimes.csproj /t:_InstallBcl